Derek Hatfield has taken his Spirit of Canada IMOCA Class 60' monohull to its first big test. The BtoB race is a transatlantic race from Bahia, Brazil to Brittany for singlehanders. It also serves as a qualifier for the most challenging test of ocean racing:the 2007-8 Vendeé Globe. Competitors are expected to complete the race in about 15 to 18 days. 15 competitors crossed the start line yesterday, and after the overnight, and as of early this morning, all are relatively close, still moving roughly parallel to the shore. The leaders, some of the greatest names in sailing appeared to have headed further offshore before tacking upwind towards the equator, on a wind expected to be clocking from NE to E. The wind is also stronger and more consistent farther from shore. Leaders include Marc Guillemot in first, Bernard Stamm, and Michel Desjoyaux. Hatfield has taken the Spirit of Canada on a conservative route about 14 miles off, pretty much in between those farther offshore, and those hugging the shoreline.
Spirit of Canada is a newly built boat, but based on a design a generation older than the newest competing boats (though successful). Hatfield believes this will be a good test for the boat which has already proven itself reliable in the delivery to Brazil. This qualifying race has already given Hatfield a chance to view the competition and come up with ways to lighten the boat and improve speed for the ultimate goal, the Vendeé Globe. The race can be followed by clicking here.